‘Where’s the Elephant’ by Barroux is an absolute joy to behold. On first glance it appears to simply be a vibrant, stunningly illustrated hide-and-seek picture book that encourages children to search for the elephant, the parrot and the snake. The opening pages entice you into a lush tropical paradise filled with wonder and exotic animals that you want to explore and creates a sense of anticipation and excitement for the child.
Barroux uses an amazingly vivid palette and a range of textures to brings the pages to life and gives the reader a real sense of the astonishing beauty of the rainforest. Yet we start to feel that there is something more complex unravelling within the story as we turn each page and suddenly find it’s much to easier to spot the elephant, the parrot and the snake as trees are felled and we find the animals increasingly exposed to the elements and their homes are gradually being diminshed.
What makes this story so unique and powerful is that this is all told through illustrations and is virtually a wordless book which offers endless opportunities to explore the themes raised. Even the smallest child will be able to grasp the basic premise that if we destroy our environment there is a much wider impact on wildlife and our planet as a whole. For older children it offers the chance to explore the more complex problem of the consequences of over development of the world in which we live.
As the book draws to a close we see elephant, parrot and snake heading towards a new paradise which offers a hopeful ending for smaller children whilst older children will be aware that the opportunities to simply move on or inevitably finite.
This book is extraordinary and Barroux has managed to convey a very powerful message about the fragility of our environment and has created so many layers that it opens up a wide range of areas for discussion. Not only that but visually you will become totally engaged through the story as you see the contrast between the starkness of this new emerging developed world versus the outstanding natural beauty of the rainforest which has been devastated beyond recognition. It really is a unique and powerful story which will appeal to children of all ages.
A huge thank you to Egmont for sending me this book to review it has been a delight to read and share.